NEWS - JULY 2014
Jim Kelly's Cancer Has Not Spread
Stephen Bond July 4th, 2014
News10NBC is learning new developments on Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s battle with cancer. The former Bills great was released from the hospital nearly a month ago.
Thanks to Jim’s wife, Jill, we have been given updates about the former Bills quarterback. On Thursday on Instagram, Jill said her husband’s cancer hasn’t spread. Jill said they have to wait until August for a re-scan to find out if the cancer is gone.
Kelly had an aggressive treatment schedule. He underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The Hall of Fame quarterback was released from Erie County Medical Center last month. Jill also announced on her blog that Jim will be in Canton for Andre Reed’s induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Chicago Lineman Kyle Long Hosts Youth Fitness Event in Chicago Today
Fitness News Desk July 12th, 2014
Kyle Long of the Chicago Bears recently made news by spending the day with a 9-year-old bullying victim, so it's no surprise he will participate in an event focusing on childhood fitness and well-being. Long will sign autographs and greet fans at the "Grow Strong with Kyle Long" event at Uncle Bob's Self Storage on 3626 North Broadway Avenue Chicago, IL 60613 today, July 12, from 12pm-2pm.
Grow Strong with Kyle Long
"Grow Strong with Kyle Long" will be a family-friendly event featuring games and activities designed for fun and fitness. Uncle Bob's 16,000-square-foot parking lot will transform into a training center for kids to test their skills on several life-size inflatable activity stations. Activities include a bungee run modeled after pro linemen training and the junior sports challenge, a multi-sport skill trainer. There will also be video fitness training and a climb and slide for cooling down after the workout. All activities will be conducted under proper adult supervision.
"I've always loved working with kids and fitness offers as many benefits for the mind as it does the body," Long said. "It's important to encourage good habits early on and I'm happy to be a part of that."
Autograph Signing and Other Attractions
Long will sign autographs and meet with fans from 12pm-2pm. In addition to the autograph session and fitness games, fresh fruit, juices and other healthy snacks will be provided. Sports Radio 670 The Score will also be on hand with a prize wheel and giveaways.
For more information, visit Uncle Bob's online at UncleBobs.com/Kyle.
About Kyle Long
Kyle Long is a guard for the NFL's Chicago Bears. In the 2013 NFL draft, he was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears out of Oregon. Long earned a spot in the 2014 Pro Bowl and was the first Bears offensive rookie to do so since Gale Sayers in 1965.
About Uncle Bob's Self Storage
Uncle Bob's Self Storage is owned by Sovran Self Storage, Inc., (NYSE:SSS) a real estate investment trust (REIT) that acquires and manages self storage facilities. Uncle Bob's is one of the largest self storage companies in the United States with more than 500 storage locations in 25 states. Uncle Bob's currently has 13 self storage facilities in the Chicago area.
Ron Darling Finds Plenty to Like in Brewer's All-Stars
Bob Wolfley Desk July 12th, 2014
As a New York Mets broadcaster, Ron Darling had an up-close look both at Carlos Gomez andFranciscoRodriguez, two of the Milwaukee Brewers who made the National League roster in the All-Star Game.
Darling is set to call the St. Louis Cardinals at Brewers game Sunday on TBS for a national television audience. He will work the game with Milwaukee native Ernie Johnson.
In his midseason awards, Darling picked Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy as the NL MVP and Ron Roenicke NL manager of the year.
Darling made those choices before the Brewers fell into a 1-10 rut going into the weekend, but he said in a telephone interview he doesn't take anything back.
"Every team has a losing streak," Darling said. "I don't care if it's a team that wins 100 games. Every team seems to go through that phase....When all is said and done, the Brewers have been the best story in baseball, like Pittsburgh was last year."
Darling recalls Gomez's rookie season in the majors, 2007 with the Mets.
"When I first saw him, I thought he was one of the greatest athletes I've ever seen in a baseball uniform," Darling said. "Very (Yasiel) Puig-like. He was wet behind the ears. Definitely was a greenhorn. But the talent was evident from Day 1....If he had grown up on Tobacco Road he would have been a point guard for UNC. If he had grown up in Texas, he would have been a running back at the University of Texas. He could have been anything. If he had chosen track and field he might have been an Alberto Juantorena. That's how magnificent an athlete he was."
Darling said he admires the way Gomez has taken charge of his talent, taken control of his career, taken ownership of his aggressiveness at the plate.
"It's not even the coaches or anyone's fault — no one tries to get a player and teach him incorrectly, everyone is trying to help the player," Darling said. "But sometimes when people try to help a player, they are really hurting a player.
"I'm proud of him because he took ownership of his career. It wasn't going where he wanted it to go. He said if I'm going to go down, I'm going to go down with the way I think I can play. He did it and changed everyone's perception of him. It takes a strong kid to do that. He's not from this country. You feel like everyone else has the answers and you don't. He was strong-willed enough."
Darling said he is not surprised by the stunning resurgence of Rodriguez this year.
"Frankie has an inner toughness that you don't teach," Darling said. "The reasons he has been so successful, from the day he came up and caught fire for the 2002 Angels, he just has that it factor that they can't teach.
"When things get toughest — Frankie is 6-foot tall or so — he grows to about 6-4. He is that kind of athlete and pitcher. There is a lot of fight in him. I appreciate the competitive nature of what he does. I'm less surprised that he has caught fire again only because you knew he was a survivor. You knew he would find a way to be successful. He's a leader. He's a guy who has no problem wearing a target."
What will the absence of catcher Yadier Molina mean to the Cardinals' chances of returning to the postseason?
"I could make the argument that of all the players in baseball, the most missed on any team would be Molina with the Cardinals," Darling said. "They have not hit like the way they hit last year. No one has in the history of the game. If they can pick up their hitting a little bit, maybe pound the baseball around a little bit, they'll survive until he comes back."
Alex Rodriguez is the main focus of a new book released this month, "Blood Sport," by Tim Elfrink andGus Garcia-Roberts.
The subtitle of the 461-page work gives you the gist: "Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era."
But there is a good measure of focus on the saga of Ryan Braun's connection to Biogenesis and fall from grace. Much of what is written about Braun has been reported before, but there is at least one interesting nugget.
Ralph Sasson, a former friend of Braun's, was for a time part of the inner circle who challenged the manner in which Braun's urine sample was handled when he tested positive for a banned substance.
Braun reportedly claimed to some other players that the sample collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., was a Chicago Cubs fan and an anti-Semite.
"In an interview for this book, Braun's childhood friend Sasson took reluctant credit for those claims," the authors write. "He said that, upon being given Laurenzi's name by Braun soon after the Brewers star learned of the failed test, he found two pieces of information on the urine collector's Facebook page. One: Yes, Laurenzi was a Cubs fan, says Sasson. Two: He was a member of a Seventh-day Adventist congregation. Sasson says he told Braun that there had been some history of anti-Semitism in that faith. 'I told him to take it with a grain of salt,' says Sasson. 'But he ran with it.'"
Last week, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter asked Laurenzi about that passage in the book. Laurenzi said in a text that he is Catholic and not a Seventh-day Adventist. Laurenzi declined further comment.
Kelly Wraps Annual Football Camp
TWC Sports Staff July 13th, 2014
AMHERST, N.Y. - Jim Kelly wrapped up his 27th annual football camp on Sunday, but this one was special for the Bills Hall of Fame quarterback.
Kelly met his goal to be a part of the five-day camp despite his ongoing battle with cancer. They finished up the week at Sweet Home High School with trophy presentations, and the final words from the legendary signal caller were met with a standing ovation.
"It's been awesome," Kelly said to the crowd. "I wasn't quite able to do what I did the last couple of years but I did as much as I could. And next year, I'm going to be healthier, stronger, and we'll see you then. Thank you and God bless to each and everyone."
Kelly will hold a one-day camp at St. John Fisher College on Tuesday.
Check out the video here:
WCG Exclusive Interview with Kyle Long
Steve Ronkowski July 14th, 2014
No Chicago Bear would ever let a little bad weather ruin gameday, and Kyle Long's "Grow Strong with Kyle Long" event for children went off without a hitch this Saturday despite threatening weather on the horizon. Attendees to the event, held at Uncle Bob's Self-Storage near Wrigleyville, were treated to bouncy castles, healthy snacks, and a chance to meet and greet the second-year linesman. Also, in the case of one lucky brother and sister, the event offered a chance to test their skills at FIFA World Cup 2014 with Long:
Kyle Long is spreading a "keep active" message to kids and parents alike in Chicago, and based on Kyle's FIFA skills, he clearly didn't spend too much time playing video games growing up. Since his parents obviously had some success in raising two NFL players in between himself and brother Chris Long, I asked Kyle what advice he has for parents. He said, "The hardest days for my parents were when we didn't get our exercise in, we were just bouncing off the walls. You have to make sure your kids are active, and that's something my parents really stressed at a young age with us... it really helped us." Now getting to pay that effort forward, Kyle said, "Getting to come here, play FIFA, hang out in the bounce house with these kids - you can't beat it."
Kyle had equal praise for his new family, the Chicago Bears, as lead by Marc Trestman. Regarding Trestman's locker-room culture, Long stated that "the culture which Marc Trestman has started to instill in the Bears facility is one of men of character, men who go about things the right way... you can really take that off the field with your family, your wife, your girlfriend, your husband, your son, your daughter. You try to lead your life by example, and that's something that Trestman has done a really good job with."
Trestman and GM Phil Emery shuffled the coaching deck on offense this off-season, and Long is very impressed with the additions and changes. Of new offensive line coach Pat Meyer, Long called him "awesome," elaborating that "He's one of my favorite coaches on the team, someone I spend a lot of time with off the field. He's a funny guy, he's a player's coach, he's got a lot of experience - he's been everywhere - and we love him." On the greater role Aaron Kromer has now taken on across the offense, Long told me that,"Krome is a jack of all trades. He does the quarterback position, the offensive line position, the running back position. The offense as a whole revolves Kromer's knowledge and his ability to articulate subtle nuances to the team. We love Krome, and we're really lucky to have the coaches we have."
Switching from coaches to players, I asked Long about the Bears offensive line, which is returning all five starters from last season. Long said, "It's really rare to have that - five guys who started every game last year. We're really blessed to have those five guys. I was texting the guys on the way over here, checking up with them, and we're trying to get together for dinner. We have a great group of guys."
While the Bears offensive line was a blessed with both good health and good performance last year, the defensive line was a slightly different story. But Kyle Long'sfirst-hand take on the new defensive front is positive so far. As he said of the revamped defensive line, "They look like a bunch of crazed dogs. It's hard practicing against that group, they're such tremendous players. They bring a lot of energy to the defense. Obviously we were dismantled last year because of injuries, but this year we have a new-look defense, guys are healthy, and we're ready to go."
You can see the effects that Marc Trestman's tutelage has had on the second-year player. When asked about his goals for the season, he said in order, "Be the best teammate I can be. Try and win a Super Bowl. Try to make memories with the guys I'm playing with." Kyle Long appears to be hitting his stride as a player and a "man of character" moving into his second season, and I'm sure I'm not the only Bears fan who hopes he can help make good on that second goal.
Mets Finally Giving Ron Darling Reason for Optimism
Bob Raissman July 17th, 2014
When it comes to abruptly slamming the window of optimism, the Mets lead all of baseball. Everyone involved must move quickly or risk getting their nose caught, left unable to distinguish the scent going from sweet to stinky.
Ron Darling knows this. About three weeks ago he went on the radio telling the Free World the Mets were poised to go on a run.
“They went on to lose six in a row,” Darling said over the telephone. “I looked like a fool.”
A lesser man — or one more ego-based — would not make such an admission. He would have instructed the radio gnomes to lose the audio. Fortunately, the long baseball season gives Darling the opportunity to stand at the crossroads once again. The Mets are five games under .500 and are looking to parlay late first-half sizzle into a rapid-fire second-half start beginning Friday night in San Diego.
Throughout all media precincts, the window is wide open again. Faded stories about the Mets taking over the town are coming back into clear focus as they are recycled.
Darling has been here before and wouldn’t make the same mistake, would he? Now, when it comes to the Mets’ second-half prospects he must be “cautiously optimistic,” right?
“No,” he said, “I’m extremely optimistic.”
Let’s not get crazy. Darling, one of SportsNet New York’s trio of Mets broadcasters, who doubles as TBS’ No. 1 baseball analyst, explained he is mostly talking about the ability to eventually say certain players exceeded his expectations when the season finally ends.
“Whether this all culminates in the postseason, I don’t know,” he said. “I do think there is going to be so much more positive than there has been the last few years.”
The rest of the baseball season here is hanging by a thread, at least in terms of media relevancy. Second-half dives have become a Mets tradition. With their decimated pitching staff and anemic, ice-aged offense, the Yankees will be hard-pressed to finish strong and could be left with only Derek Jeter as a drawing card.
If things break the other way, the final two months of the season could provide riveting reality television for both teams. In the Mets’ case, it would feature a club coming of age and finding its confidence.
“They haven’t gotten to the point where they know they are going to kick someone’s ass every night,” Darling said, “but they’ve gotten past the point where all they did was wonder what negative thing is going to happen tonight.”
Winning changes the broadcast, too. In 2006, the first season of the Darling, Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez SNY alliance, the Mets made it to the playoffs. The next two years they were alive until bitter regular-season endings.
“If you go back and listen to those 2006 broadcasts, the Mets are the train and we just got on board,” Darling said. “When the team is struggling, you spend more time telling stories. When the team is good, you try not to get in the way of the story.”
You don’t have to be a Seamhead, or Mets voice, to know what the next story will be. Should the Mets keep winning, Valley of the Stupid preachers will be calling for Sandy Alderson to fortify the offense.
Darling said Alderson should not trade any of his chips unless he can pull off a blockbuster.
“A (Mike) Piazza-type deal. I’m all for that,” Darling said. “Anything short of that kind of player then you are just trading for small pieces and hoping they catch fire, tiny little trades that would neither bring the Mets back to the pack or push them out there.”
All this stuff to consider, including finding out if the Mets are for real, puts Darling in a better place. In May, he was not happy about his name being used by the organization in a fan-loyalty letter. Listening to him on the broadcasts provided us the impetus to write that apart from the letter, he sounded exasperated about the direction the front office was taking.
Darling said that was not exactly the case.
“I was looking at players in my own way. When I was 23 or 24 I knew it was time to get going. Now I started looking at players who are 26 or 27 and saying: ‘Boy, I hope this guy turns it around. His baseball clock is ticking away,’ ” Darling said. “It was frustrating. I want these guys to figure it out. I was frustrated for them.”
For any voice, there is also a frustration walking into the booth knowing there’s a good chance the team you broadcast for is going to lose. “At some point, when a team is underperforming, you must explain why,” Darling said. “That presents some difficult stuff to talk about.”
As he went through the highs of the 2006 season, Darling never thought it would be this long between drinks. On a personal level, he already knows the feeling of winning it all but is far from satisfied.
“I was lucky enough to play on a championship team but I want to broadcast for a championship team,” Darling said. “I want to do that more than anything."
Now, about that window.
Pro Football HOF Hires 16W Marketing To Sell Corporate Sponsorships
Daniel Kaplan July 31st, 2014
The Pro Football HOF tabbed 16W Marketing to sell sponsorships for the Canton, Ohio, institution. 16W is charged with selling the Hall and its travelling shows to corporate partners. Allstate and Ford are current HOF sponsors. In addition to the Hall itself, 16W can sell against several year-round national programs, including the Hometown HOFers plaque program, the Pro Football HOF Enshrinement Festival and official HOF Super Bowl events such as the annual Merlin Olsen Luncheon.
The Hall's annual induction ceremony is Saturday, followed on Sunday by the HOF Game. Potentially there could be more platforms for 16W to sell. HOF President Dave Bakerwants to create a Hall village in Canton, a Little League World Series-type tournament for youth football in Canton and an officiating academy. Insignia Sports & Entertainment sold sponsorships for the Hall in '12 and '13.